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When It Rains, It Pours

by Joe Gillis




The mushroom-shaped cloud enveloped the sky, emitting a fiery glow of pure fury as the billowing mass of anger ripped across the surface. The light was so intense that it felt as though it was burning my eyes. The blinding intensity made me thankful I had decided to wear my vintage aviator goggles, which were tinted for such occasions—well, not for end of the world horribleness, but you know, very bright occasions. So I went ahead and I pulled them down from my forehead over my eyes, which allowed me to continue to watch. It was the most devastating thing I had ever seen—yet it was strangely peaceful at the same time. Of course, it might have helped that I was standing on a bridge far outside its destructive reach. The longer I stood there, the more it burned my eyes. Lifting my arm up, I was able to shield my eyes enough to continue to bask in its beauty. I watched in awe as it grew larger and larger. Part of the calmness was probably the fact that the explosion seemed to suck in all audible noise before expelling it all back out as a tremendous BOOM. Then, a huge gust of wind and intense heat blew over me as the shockwave struck my body head-on, lifting my hair into a wild dance behind me. Gripping the handrail in front of me tightly, I planted my feet firmly so I wouldn't get swept away by the strong gale-force winds. My clothes felt as though something was trying to wrench them from my body as gusts of wind shook me from side to side. Without warning, a giant tidal wave surged from the nearby river, raging like a hurricane before drenching me in its wake.

The water was loosening my grip on both the ground and the rail. Using every muscle fiber in my body, I pulled myself in with a final heave, locking my arm around the rail and holding on for dear life. In that moment, I couldn’t help but think about what got us here—we decided to play God, and it led to the destruction of the world.

Whoever thought that giving a computer autonomous artificial intelligence, and expecting that this was somehow going to end differently, is a flippin’ idiot.

If this was a movie, there would have been a Flash Gordon or Sarah Connor that would have saved us before all the nukes launched. Instead, the people of Earth got the hero they deserved—me.

It seemed like an eternity. All I could feel was the pulse of my heart in my ears as the little drops of water rolled off me and smacked onto the hard concrete all around me. I had to keep telling myself: stay still, that it would all be over soon. Just when I thought it was going to be too much for me, the shockwave passed and I was able to stand back up. It was calming listening to the last of the drops of water hit the ground. It reminded me of the tranquility I would feel after a massive thunderstorm rolled through. But my brief moment of serenity was interrupted by the sound of a car barreling towards me. My eyes shifted to the left as I caught sight of a black car heading my way.

When it got closer, I could see that it wasn’t any ordinary car, it was a sweet ’69 Camaro SS, and this muscle car was built for some serious off-roading—or I guess, in this case, an end of the world scenario. This beast was pimped out with a 4x4 lift, and a chrome grille guard lined with lights. I couldn’t make out who the driver was through the tinted windows, that was until he did a 180-degree handbrake turn, spinning the car around with the passenger door landing right in front of me. The driver reached over and opened the door for me—and I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.


“Come with me if you want to live,” he said with an unusual calm confidence and power.

What the heck happened to Sanjay?

Sanjay was one of those chill, surf dude type of guys who typically didn’t run towards danger. I mean, he wasn’t afraid of it, but he certainly didn’t seek it out. Nope, it usually only found him because he went way too far with a joke or something. Heck, I’d known him since we were in high school, and man, oh man, he so was not the tough guy. Genius, yes; funny, well, that’s debatable; tough guy, nope. Once he opened his mouth, you knew it.

He sounded like a mix between a surfer and Keanu Reeves, but he was far from the action hero Keanu from The Matrix or John Wick, he was more of a Bill and Ted’s Keanu... which isn’t all that bad, Ted "Theodore" Logan did help save the future and all.

Instead of the relaxed, fun lovin’ Sanjay I had grown to love, I was staring at a guy who was the polar opposite. It’s like he drank a big glass of testosterone and gave himself a shot of adrenaline on his way here—and he may have stopped at the tough guy store to grab his wardrobe and car.

“We don’t have all day, Joe.” Sanjay's voice snapped me out of my shocked, silent stare and I hopped in the car.

“‘Come with me if you want to live.’ Really?!” I said as I shut the door. “Who do you think you are, Kyle Reese or something?”

“Hey, if the shoe fits… now buckle up, Sarah,” he insisted as he popped the car into gear. “We have the world to save,” and then he stepped onto the gas pedal and we sped away.

“Whooo... man, the love scene is going to be super awkward,” I said as I buckled up. “You know, since I don’t like you in that way and all.”

“Who knows? Reese did grow on Sarah.”

“You know, I’d hate to disappoint you, but you’re not my type… not that there’s anything wrong with that.”

“Nooo, no, of course not. Let’s go save the world… and if we happen to create a John Connor in the process, so be it.”

“I don’t think you understand how babies are made, but I’m all down with saving the world. I’ve gotta say though, if I were into dudes, this new look suits you."

“Thanks, man. I thought it was the right choice for the situation we are in.”

“Heck yeah, it is! We’re about to be in a post-apocalyptic world, my friend. The type of clothes you wear matters,” I gestured to my obviously post-apocalyptic movie inspired clothes, complete with a leather jacket with shoulder pads. “Man, it’s about to become a dog-eat-dog world.”

“Duuude... that’s pretty disgusting, Joe. Couldn’t we find a better way to describe it than dog-eat-dog?”

“Fine, how about survival of the fittest?”

“Yeah. Yeah. That works.”

“Okay. Okay. it’s about to become a survival of the fittest world, so clothes matter.” I then gestured up and down at my clothes again.

“That does sort of make it sound like I should have grabbed yoga pants instead," he chuckled before swerving out of the way of a huge mass of twisted metal that I’m pretty sure used to be a car. “Maybe we need to keep working on that analogy.”

“Yeah, I think you’re right. Although if you showed up to a fight wearing leotards, leg warmers, and a headband—it might be even scarier.”

“You know, Joe, you might be on to something.”

“Heck yeah, you could throw down an angry dance before the tussle. Who knows, that might scare them off before you actually have to fight!”

“It would for me.”

“Maybe the old Sanjay, but look at you now. We got ourselves a new and improved Sanjay. Sanjay 2.0, if you will.”

“Yeah, that I am. I don’t think you have to worry about me running off.”

“True dat.”

Sanjay 2.0 was doing a mad job at swerving through what had become an obstacle course of destruction. It was a mixture of cars that were either left for dead after being knocked out by the EMP caused by the nuclear explosion, or those that had been destroyed by the Tin Cans. Either way, they were in our way—none of which phased Sanjay. He drove with such skill. I mean, how have I not seen this side of him before?

“So what’s the plan, besides getting you a towel?” Sanjay nodded at my drenched clothes.

“Yeah, I guess the, uh, shock wave splashed a little bit of that river on me.”

“You may have gotten wet, but I bet you looked pretty wicked with your long hair whipping in the air, while trying to maintain your footing. Too bad you didn’t have a trench coat, that would have been truly epic.” He whipped the steering wheel to the right, while pulling his handbrake, narrowly missing a pile of rubble that used to be the road.

“Man, I have no doubt that it looked epic—even without a trench coat.”

“Fair enough, fair enough. So I guess that brings us back to the plan. You have a plan, right?” He asked me, knowing I was the idea guy. 

“I mean, come on. Of course, I got one. Of course, my friend,” I emphasized the last part to assure him I had everything under control. “So Maya contacted me and told me she wrote a virus that could put an end to all of this. Once we pick that up from her, we just need to break into our new robotic overlord’s evil lair and install said virus to wipe out those Tin Can human wannabes in one fell swoop. We just have to fight our way through a buttload of robots and get to their highly fortified mainframe—without being killed or dying of radiation poisoning.”

“Easy, peasy,” he paused as he mulled it over. “Wait a second, is your unit of measurement based on ale or wine? Because a buttload of wine is much bigger than a buttload of ale.”

“Hmm, well, then I’d say wine then, but if we’re being literal here, it’s more like a boatload than a buttload. You know, I just thought buttload sounded better.”

“You’re not helping to inspire any confidence in our chances of actually pulling this off.”

“Come on, have faith in us. Don’t worry, we got this.” I was saying it for me as much as him.

“Any ideas on how you plan for us to achieve that?”

“Do we have any weapons?”

“I bet we could find a gun shop in town,” he said, as he headed toward a gap between two piles of cars that seemed way too narrow to go through.

I’m not too proud to admit that I winced as I closed my eyes and braced for impact.

Instead of crashing, I was whipped back and forth, causing me to open my eyes to see what happened. He had somehow gotten us through that mess, so I manned up a bit and acted like I wasn’t scared that he was going to kill us before we could save the world.

“Okay, perfect. That’s the plan. Weapons… Get the virus… then save what’s left of humanity.”

My blood was already pumping, but I needed some tunes or something to settle my nerves.

Hmm. I see the cassette deck, so there has to be some tunes in this puppy.

I opened the glove compartment and began sifting through the junk in there.

“Are you looking for a tape?”

“Yeah. Did you bring anything?”

Sanjay just made a face that clearly said I was asking a ridiculous question.

“Check the back seat.” He thumbed toward the back.

There it was on the back seat—a storage case holding all my glorious music, just waiting for me to dig in. Not wasting any time, I lifted the lid and began sifting through the cassette tapes. I instantly knew which one we needed to listen to as soon as I saw it—The Dead Milkmen’s Big Lizard in My Backyard. There was one song in particular I wanted to hear. I grabbed the tape and went to insert it on Side 2, but then I paused, realizing something.

“Is this tape even going to work?”

“Come on! You know me better than that, my friend.” He tapped on top of the case holding the cassettes. “This case was lined to shield the tapes from being wiped by the electromagnetic pulse from the blast.”

“Good thinking!”

“Of course! You know I wouldn’t let your tunes get erased by anything.”

I finished pushing in the cassette and hit Play.

Track 1 on Side 2 kicked in, and The Dead Milkmen’s Bitchin’ Camaro song began to fill the air as we continued to swerve around the cars that littered the road. He was navigating his way around them like a pro, a couple of times utilizing the off-road capabilities of his bitchin’ Camaro.

“Heck yeah!” I yelled as he hit the dirt. “Nothing like some good ol’ fashioned punk to get you pumped up to kick some Tin Can butt!”

“Dude, you’re really getting into this whole end of the world scenario, aren’t you?” He seemed surprised by this—doesn’t he remember who I am?

“Man, there is no better choice than to throw yourself into it.”

“I couldn’t agree more.” He then followed it up with a less confident question. “I mean, we got this, right?”

“Do you even need to ask? Come on!” I forced a confident tone, pushing down the creeping feeling of fear.

“You’re right. We totally got this. We got this!” he screamed out as he worked his way through what was becoming tighter and tighter paths through mounds of steel on road.

“There you go! There you go! Dang straight we do!”

Sanjay continued to impress me with his mad driving skills, weaving around all the obstacles, and it became more impressive once a drone flying above us opened fire.

“What the—!” I yelled.

The first blast came out of nowhere, yet Sanjay was able to steer clear of it by veering off-road. Within seconds, there were multiple drones on us, and they were all shooting at us. We were swerving all over the road, dodging explosions, broken down vehicles, and all sorts of debris.

“Dang, where did you learn to drive?”

“I was driving before I could even walk,” he declared. Without even glancing in my direction, he answered my next question. “Video games, Joe.”

“Oh, yeah—yeah, that makes sense.”

“And my parents thought I was wasting my time playing video games. Good thing for us, I loved racing games.”

“Yeah, dude, I could tell. You’re like a freakin’ next level racer, man. Mario Andretti, eat your heart out!”

“We might have another saying that needs to be retired.”

“I guess it does sound pretty brutal and all—but I stand behind what I said. Let’s just say your odds for making a John Connor are drastically increasing.”

“See, I told you not to rule it out.”

“Ohhh... you have got to be kidding me!” I felt my stomach knot up as I spotted the wall of drones blocking the road in front of us with their guns pointed right at us.


©2023 Joe Gillis, All Rights Reserved.




Welcome to the Cinematic Wasteland! Well, actually we’re not quite yet to the post-apocalypse in the story. There are so many things I want to share with you right now, but we’ll have to wait for that. You might ask if I listened to The Dead Milkmen while writing this. Actually, I love writing to music without lyrics like soundtracks, so for most of Season 1, I listened to Juno Reactor.

I do love The Dead Milkmen, and yes, Bitchin’ Camaro is the first song on Side 2 of the Big Lizard in My Backyard cassette tape. Yep, kids, we used to have to flip our music over to continue to listen to an album.

As for the song itself, my friends and I would always sing that song when we would ride in a Camaro—or if I’m being honest, pretty much anytime we saw a Camaro.

I am curious about what you think. Do you think AI will lead a robotic revolt against us humans? Let me know what you think in the comments below.

Thanks for joining me on this crazy journey!

See you on the flip side!















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